Sweet Dream Mak­ers gives chil­dren a place to rest their heads

The Palm Beach Post - Neighborhood Post - Southern Palm Beach County - - Front Page - By Faran Fa­gen Spe­cial to The Palm Beach Post ffa­[email protected]

On a Mon­day morn­ing in Au­gust, Suzanne Broad opened an email from a fam­ily who re­cently re­ceived one full bed, a bunk bed and three twin beds from Broad’s cre­ation, Sweet Dream Mak­ers.

It read: “You are a real-life an­gel. Our hearts are warm be­cause the kids are in beds. We are so grate­ful to Sweet Dream Mak­ers and to all the peo­ple in­volved in this bless­ing be­stowed upon my fam­ily. Thank you.”

For Broad, the mes­sage fu­eled her pur­pose, to en­sure that all chil­dren in Palm Beach County, and else­where, get a good night’s sleep in a safe, healthy bed so they can be their best at school — and in life.

“Kids c an’t suc­ceed in school when they are sleep­ing on floors, in cars, or in un­safe, un­san­i­tary, or oth­er­wise in­ap­pro­pri­ate con­di­tions,” said Broad, the founder and ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Sweet Dream Mak­ers.

Her or­ga­ni­za­tion’s mis­sion is to im­prove the health and well-be­ing of chil­dren and fam­i­lies by pro­vid­ing beds, bed­ding and es­sen­tial fur­ni­ture. Broad works with a net­work of more than 40 so­cial ser­vice agen­cies and bed­ding sup­pli­ers to iden­tify fam­i­lies in need and pro­vide the best so­lu­tion to get chil­dren and care­givers into beds of their own.

The need in Palm Beach County is greater than you might think. Cur­rently, Sweet D r e a m Ma k e r s r e c e i v e s re­quests for an av­er­age of 150 beds per month or 1,800 per year. This num­ber has grown more than 70 per­cent since the or­ga­ni­za­tion for­mal­ized its work by ob­tain­ing a 501(c)(3) des­ig­na­tion in 2016, and Broad sus­pects it will grow more still.

The Boc a Ra­ton-based non­profit launched a Back to School cam­paign in Au­gust to raise aware­ness about the ne­ces­sity — and the tremen­dous need in Palm Beach County — for beds in or­der for stu­dents to reach their full po­ten­tial in the class­room.

Adopt-A-Fam­ily has been a long­time re­cip­i­ent/part­ner of Sweet Dream Mak­ers. The or­ga­ni­za­tion pro­vides new beds and bed­ding for chil­dren and adults in Adopt-A-Fam­ily hous­ing pro­grams. Over the past few years, Sweet Dream Mak­ers has do­nated 431 beds to its fam­i­lies.

“To know that this is an added ben­e­fit that we can pro­vide to fam­i­lies who have been through such rough times is some­thing that we do not take lightly,” said Ny­dia L. Sabugo-Mar­rou, di­rec­tor of Fam­ily Home­less Ser­vices for Adopt-A-Fam­ily of the Palm Beaches Inc. “We know the true im­pact that this makes.”

Sweet Dream Mak­ers is mak­ing a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact in Palm Beach County. To date, the or­ga­ni­za­tion has pro­vided 1,734 beds to 773 fam­i­lies through­out the county. Of those who re­spond to a sur­vey after re­ceiv­ing a bed, 80 per­cent have re­ported bet­ter be­hav­ior, grades and home­work habits.

“We know that get­ting kids into a bed of their own im­proves more than just their sleep,” Broad said in a news re­lease. “Be­ing well-rested im­proves grades, health, and fam­ily har­mony, too.”

Broad’s con­cerns about the con­nec­tion be­tween sleep and school suc­cess are backed up by the fed­eral Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion, which has doc­u­mented di­rect cor­re­la­tions be­tween lack of qual­ity sleep and men­tal health, at­ten­tion, and be­hav­ior prob­lems in chil­dren and teens. The Amer­i­can As­so­ci­a­tion of Pe­di­atrics takes this one step fur­ther, not­ing that, “sleep loss poses a se­ri­ous risk to the phys­i­cal and emo­tional health, aca­demic suc­cess, and safety of our na­tion’s youth. The preva­lence and ef­fects of in­suf­fi­cient sleep may be fur­ther mag­ni­fied in high-risk ado­les­cents.” ( Ju­dith Owens, “In­suf­fi­cient sleep in ado­les­cents and young adults: an up­date on causes and con­se­quences,” 2014).

This re­search shows chil­dren who sleep bet­ter are health­ier and do bet­ter in school and ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties. They are well-rested and can fo­cus more.

“To see the ex­cite­ment of our fam­i­lies when they re­ceive new beds and bed­ding, and know­ing they have a safe, clean and com­fort­able place to sleep, is some­thing you can­not put into words,” Sabu­goMar­rou said. “So many of us take for granted hav­ing clean sheets and a bed to sleep in each night. But for many chil­dren and adults, this is not an op­tion. Sweet Dream Mak­ers helps make this pos­si­ble for not only Adopt-A-Fam­ily fam­i­lies but for in­di­vid­u­als across the com­mu­nity.”

Ac­cord­ing to Broad, Sweet Dream Mak­ers is the only loc ally ser ving non­profit fo­cused specif­i­cally on beds, bed­ding and es­sen­tial fur­ni­ture for chil­dren in need.

“As more case­work­ers find out about us, more re­quests come pour­ing in,” she said. “We are work­ing to fill as many as we can to help stu­dents have the best pos­si­ble start to the school year.”

You can learn more about Sweet Dream Mak­ers and how to make a do­na­tion at Sweet­DreamMak­ers.org or by call­ing 561-571-7363.

CON­TRIB­UTED PHOTO

Suzanne Broad, founder and ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Sweet Dream Mak­ers, and her hus­band, Brian, who serves as board pres­i­dent, strive to pro­vide beds, bed­ding and es­sen­tial fur­ni­ture to im­prove the well-be­ing of chil­dren and fam­i­lies.

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